February 26, 2021
1. Carla Vizzotti appointed Minister of Health
By means of Decree 119/2021, the Argentine government made official Carla Vizzotti’s nomination as Minister of Health. Vizzotti was nominated after President Alberto Fernández demanded the resignation of her predecessor, Ginés González García, after it was revealed that several functionaries, legislators and high-profile individuals received vaccinations despite not yet qualifying for vaccination under the current framework. One of the minister’s first acts included publishing a list of “VIP” vaccinations. Additionally, the new minister created a monitoring and tracking system for those vaccinated against COVID-19 and established the requirements for “strategic personnel” in government that would be given priority for vaccines.
2. President Alberto Fernández makes official visit to Mexico
President Fernández ended a three-day trip to Mexico, where he was received by his counterpart Andrés Manuel López Obrador and met with business leaders including billionaire director of Grupo Carso, Carlos Slim, which owns key telecommunications company, Claro. Additionally, both leaders announced the opening of the Mexican market to Argentine meats. On a separate note, one of the highlights of the visit occurred during a joint press conference the Argentine president held with López Obrador, where Fernández referenced the recent vaccination scandal that prompted the resignation of the Minister of Health.
3. The government met with food industry to negotiate prices and salaries
The Minister of Productive Development, Matías Kulfas, headed the food table, where businessmen from the food industry and trade unionists from the sector met in order to advance in a price and salary agreement. In this sense, Kulfas proposed to advance in a work scheme on five main axes that include food supplies. The government’s goal is “to establish commitments, where each sector makes its contribution and between all converge to the macroeconomic objectives”. Logistics costs, the operation of the Maximum Price Program and productivity were also part of the analysis. Claudio Moroni, Minister of Labor; Luis Basterra, Minister of Agriculture; Mercedes Marcó del Pont, Head of the Federal Administration of Public Revenues (AFIP); Miguel Ángel Pesce, President of the Central Bank; and Cecilia Todesca, Deputy Chief of Staff also attended to the meeting. Executives from the food producing companies of Arcor, AGD, Molinos Ríos de la Plata, Nestlé, Ledesma, Danone, Quilmes, among others, represented the private sector. The union sector was headed by the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), the Argentine Workers Union (CTA) and the Union of Workers of Food Industries (STIA).
4. Economic activity falls 10% in 2020
The Argentine statistical agency (INDEC) released its monthly economic activity estimator, which revealed that the economy contracted 2.2% y/y in December, and by a total of 10% in 2020. Economic activity in Argentina has now reached three straight years of decline, a sum of 14.2% in the same time frame. The INDEC report showed that the sharpest declines in 2020 were registered in the Hotels and Restaurants sector (-48.6%), and Other Activities of Community, Social and Personal Services (-37.5%) as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Only two sectors recorded increases in 2020, Financial Intermediation (2.1%) and Electricity, Gas and Water (0.8%). On a separate note, the economy ministry highlighted that there was a primary surplus of ARS $24.07 billion (USD $268.03 million) in January, stemming from an 53.3% (y/y) increase in revenue and a 45.8% decrease in spending.
5. Argentina receives over 900,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine
On Thursday night, an Aerolíneas Argentinas Airbus A330 arrived at Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires with 904,000 vaccines developed by Chinese company Sinopharm. The Sinopharm vaccine was authorized by the Ministry of Health via Resolution 688/2021. It is the largest such shipment of vaccines received by the country to date, and will be distributed among educational staff across Argentina. Additionally, presidential advisor Cecilia Nicolini is currently in Russia negotiating a new shipment of Sputnik V vaccines, which were delayed as a result of several setbacks over the previous weeks.